Hypoxia associated with inflammation are common hallmarks observed in several diseases, and it plays a major role in the expression of non-coding RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs). In addition, the miRNA target genes for hypoxia-inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and nuclear factor of activated T cells-5 (NFAT5) modulate the adaptation to hypoxia. The objective of the present study was to explore hypoxia-related miRNA target genes for HIF-1α and NFAT5, as well as miRNA-20a, miRNA-30e, and miRNA-93 expression in periodontitis versus healthy gingival tissues and gingival mesenchymal stem cells (GMSCs) cultured under hypoxic conditions. Thus, a case-control study was conducted, including healthy and periodontitis subjects. Clinical data and gingival tissue biopsies were collected to analyze the expression of miRNA-20a, miRNA-30e, miRNA-93, HIF-1α, and NFAT5 by qRT-PCR. Subsequently, GMSCs were isolated and cultured under hypoxic conditions (1% O2) to explore the expression of the HIF-1α, NFAT5, and miRNAs. The results showed a significant upregulation of miRNA-20a (p = 0.028), miRNA-30e (p = 0.035), and miRNA-93 (p = 0.026) in periodontitis tissues compared to healthy gingival biopsies. NFAT5 mRNA was downregulated in periodontitis tissues (p = 0.037), but HIF-1α was not affected (p = 0.60). Interestingly, hypoxic GMSCs upregulated the expression of miRNA-20a and HIF-1α, but they downregulated miRNA-93e. In addition, NFAT5 mRNA expression was not affected in hypoxic GMSCs. In conclusion, in periodontitis patients, the expression of miRNA-20a, miRNA-30e, and miRNA-93 increased, but a decreased expression of NFAT5 mRNA was detected. In addition, GMSCs under hypoxic conditions upregulate the HIF-1α and increase miRNA-20a (p = 0.049) expression. This study explores the role of inflammatory and hypoxia-related miRNAs and their target genes in periodontitis and GMSCs. It is crucial to determine the potential therapeutic target of these miRNAs and hypoxia during the periodontal immune–inflammatory response, which should be analyzed in greater depth in future studies.
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